Flames after the trade deadline: Berra, Stempniak gone while Cammalleri stays

Mike Cammalleri will remain a Flame at least until the end of the season. - Justin K. Aller

While the Flames made a few trades at the deadline, they weren't as active as fans were hoping for.

The Flames' trade deadline day can be summed up in one word: okay. It was okay. It wasn't great, but it wasn't particularly bad, either.

As a rebuilding team, the Flames were expected to be sellers. President of Hockey Operations and current acting GM Brian Burke also said his preference would be to not let anybody go to free agency. He wanted his upcoming UFAs either traded or signed.

Only two upcoming UFAs were traded, and the most prominent of all wasn't one of them.

Mike Cammalleri

Cammalleri was hailed as the Flames' biggest trade chip. He has a career high of 39 goals, and developed a reputation as a playoff performer after a monstrous post-season run with the Canadiens four years ago. He was named one of the top wingers available at the deadline.

It was long-speculated that the chips would begin to fall once the more prominent wingers, Thomas Vanek and Matt Moulson, were moved. Neither player, however, was traded until towards the end of the deadline, and both brought back less than stellar returns.

Because of this Cammalleri is staying with the Flames, at least until the end of this season.

The market seemed rather weak this year. Dustin Penner fetched only a fourth rounder. Marian Gaborik was traded for Matt Frattin and a couple of picks. Moulson brought back Torrey Mitchell and a couple of picks, while Vanek, most devastatingly of all, was traded just for Sebastian Collberg and a conditional second.

A pick and a prospect likely would have been a good return for Cammalleri, but whatever deals were in place, Burke obviously wasn't happy with.

This leaves three possible scenarios:

  1. Cammalleri walks in free agency.
  2. Cammalleri's rights are flipped at the draft for a mid-round pick.
  3. Cammalleri re-signs with the Flames for a year or two, and is traded at the next trade deadline.
Cammy walking in free agency would be devastating; in this case, if it was only a fifth rounder being offered for him, then that would have been the better choice. Burke is taking a gamble here.
The second option would be a "eh, better than nothing" type of approach, and possibly what might have happened yesterday had Burke decided to take what he deemed an inferior option.

The final possibility might be the best one. Cammalleri was not having a great season this year, with only 15 goals and 23 points in 45 games, all the while often looking completely lost out on the ice with plays frequently dying on his stick. The return might not have been that great. If he re-signs for a year and has a good next season then that, combined with the market, could result in a better return for him.

However, failing to trade Mike Cammalleri this trade deadline was not a good move at all, and the one thing that really kept the day from being a success.

Reto Berra

Berra, however, was one of the best parts of the day.

The 27-year-old rookie netminder has had an up and down season, but mostly down: his save percentage sits at .897. That's a pretty bad save percentage. Despite somehow being perfect in overtime and the shootout, Berra only has one regulation win, and it was against the Islanders.

Somehow, this landed the Flames a second round pick.

This is above and beyond what any Flames fan could have expected in a return for Berra. That's some serious wizardry right there, and a great job by Burke.

That's more than what the Oilers got for Ilya Bryzgalov. That's on-par with what Vanek was traded for. Reto Berra. Think about it.

The trade comes with a bonus as well: It frees a spot for Joni Ortio. Ortio, who had played just one NHL game prior to the deadline, seems to have won the confidence of Flames management with his AHL play this year, in his first full season in North America.

Not having to send Ortio back down to Abbotsford allows the Flames to play a young goalie with starter potential in the NHL more often. Berra was probably never going to be the guy. There's a realistic chance Ortio will be.

Lee Stempniak

Stempniak for a third round pick was a pretty average trade; about what you'd expect for him, especially based on what this year's market set the prices at.

The fact that Berra brought back more than Stempniak is astounding, but nobody should be complaining about this one. He was a very serviceable winger, but at this stage, obtaining an extra pick and freeing up a spot for another prospect helps the Flames more than Stempniak could.

Chris Butler

The Flames' only other UFA of note, Chris Butler, will be staying with the Flames at least for the remainder of this season, and possibly longer.

Butler notably came to the Flames in the Robyn Regehr trade. Since then, he has played all over the lineup. While he currently plays in the Flames' top four, he would not be a top four defenceman on a good team. His corsi rel this season is -3.5%, a step up from last season's -4.5%; but when you're in the negatives, that's not good.

Letting Butler walk wouldn't be the end of the world; at the same time, if the Flames aren't comfortable with the the defensive prospects they currently have and don't like the free agent market, retaining a player already familiar with the team wouldn't be the worst thing ever, either.

What's next

The Flames currently sit at 27th in the league, one point ahead of the Panthers and one point back of the Islanders with two games in hand. They will likely be drafting within the top five, although where is uncertain.

Due to injuries, the Flames have a lot of prospects playing for them right now. What's left is to ride out the season, hopefully with them, and hope the teams around the Flames in the standings can start winning more often.

It's time to watch the youthful exuberance take shape on this team and cheer for it to do well, all the while keeping an eye on the upcoming draft. The Flames now have five picks in the first three rounds, two more than they had before the deadline, and it's a good start.

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